Michael Madigan indicted: Former Illinois House Speaker to face criminal charges

Former House Speaker Michael Madigan has been indicted on criminal charges as part of an ongoing federal political corruption investigation, sources said.

The eleven powerful politician has been charged with a racketeering conspiracy and bribery along with longtime political confidant Michael McClain.

Madigan is now one of the most significant politicians in Illinois history ever to face criminal charges, despite having left office more than a year ago. The news is the culmination of one of the most significant, expansive public corruption investigations Illinois has seen in years, already leaving an indelible mark on state politics by knocking Madigan out of power in January 2021.

The powerful Southwest Side Democrat had held his seat in the state House of Representatives since 1971 and served as speaker for all but two years between 1983 and 2020.

The Chicago Sun-Times first revealed in 2019 that the feds had recorded Madigan as early as 2014 at his private law firm, during a meeting with then-Ald. Danny Solis and a developer hoping to build a hotel in Chinatown. In a 2016 federal court affidavit obtained exclusively by the Sun-Times, an FBI agent alleged that Solis agreed to use his public office to provide “private benefits” to Madigan.

Solis later went on to become a secret government cooperator until his work with the feds was first revealed by the Sun-Times.

Still, it wasn’t until July 2020 that federal prosecutors finally implicated Madigan in a bribery scheme involving ComEd, giving him the moniker “Public Official A.” That development would eventually lead to the end of Madigan’s tenure as the longest-serving state House leader in US history.

The feds accused ComEd that month of a brazen, years-long Chicago-style bribery scheme, alleging that Madigan’s associates received $1.3 million over nearly a decade while doing little or no work for ComEd, all while ComEd hoped to land Madigan’s support for legislation in Springfield is worth more than $150 million.

ComEd entered into what’s known as a deferred-prosecution agreement with the US attorney’s office, admitting to the conduct and agreeing to pay a $200 million fine. The three-year deal between ComEd and federal prosecutors is already beyond its halfway point.

In the months that followed, Madigan denied personal knowledge of the scheme and said he never expected someone to be hired for a job in exchange for an action he took.

“Helping people find jobs is not a crime,” Madigan wrote in a letter to House colleagues.

Then, in November 2020, four members of Madigan’s inner-circle were indicted for their alleged roles in the ComEd scheme. Charged were McClain, former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, former ComEd lobbyist John Hooker and onetime City Club president Jay Doherty.

Another former ComEd executive, Fidel Marquez, was charged separately. He pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. Defense attorneys for McClain, Pramaggiore, Hooker and Doherty responded to their indictment with fiery, defiant statements, though. They have argued in court filings that the indictment against them fails to connect hiring decisions made by ComEd to any agreement or understanding with Madigan.

A special legislative committee formed to look into Madigan’s dealings with ComEd ended its work in December 2020 without finding any wrongdoing. But the political damage had finally been done. Madigan faced insurmountable opposition to his election to another term as speaker. He eventually turned the gavel over to Emanuel “Chris” Welch, Illinois’ first Black speaker.

Madigan resigned from his House seat Feb. 18, 2021. He also resigned as head of the Democratic Party of Illinois.

Timothy Mapes, Madigan’s former chief of staff, was then indicted in May, charged with perjury and attempted obstruction of justice amid the ComEd investigation. In a status report in September, lawyers said 90,000 documents and more than 8,000 recordings and other records had been turned over to Mapes’ lawyers.

No plea negotiations had taken place at that point.

Others charged in federal court have included former state Rep. Edward “Eddie” Acevedo and his two sons, as well as former state Sen. Annazette Collins. Others mentioned amid the feds’ investigation include former City Council members Mike Zalewski and Frank Olivo, as well as current 13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn and ex-McPier CEO Juan Ochoa.

Meanwhile, US Attorney John Lausch was also nearly forced out of office early last year in a sweep by President Joe Biden of top federal prosecutors nominated by former President Donald Trump. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth won Lausch a rare reprieve so he could keep his job from him until his successor is confirmed and to “conclude sensitive investigations.”

Many took that as a nod to the investigation circulating Madigan.